Boris Johnson pulls out of trip to Moscow

"So, really, now what happens depends on how everyone responds to what happened in Syria, and make sure that we start moving towards a political solution, and we start finding peace in that area".

Damascus and Moscow denied Syrian forces were behind the gas attack but Western countries dismissed their explanation that chemicals leaked from a rebel weapons depot after an air strike.

The US launched Friday 59 missiles on a Syrian airbase in retaliation for the suspected chemical weapon attack that killed dozens of civilians, including many children.

Downing Street said the missile attack, which destroyed Assad's airfield and planes and killed at least five people, was an "appropriate response".

The chemical stocks were left untouched because the Pentagon did not want to risk unintentionally sending a plume of toxic gas across parts of Syria.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson cancelled his trip to Moscow on Saturday just hours before he was due to fly, stating his priority is to "build coordinated global support for a ceasefire". A week ago, Haley and Tillerson said that the United States was not working towards unseating Assad, and that such a decision should be up to the Syrian people.

"But Assad's principal backer is Russian Federation".

Saudi Arabia said on Friday it "fully supports" United States strikes on military targets in Syria, saying it was a "courageous decision" by President Donald Trump in response to the use of chemical weapons against civilians.

There also was an unconfirmed report of a US -led raid against the Islamic State in the countryside around Raqqa, the terror group's de facto capital in Syria.

On whether Assad should be removed from power, McMaster said: "We are not saying that we are the ones who are going to effect that change". He said he will remind his counterpart of Russia's obligation to act as the guarantor of the agreement to eliminate chemical weapons from Syria.

He said a solution could only come about if Mr Assad quit as president.

"In this lightning process", Wittes said, "the idea that (the White House) worked through the second- and third-order effects - I find that questionable".

"I do not see any grounds for optimism and worry that expectations will be disappointed", said Tamara Cofman Wittes, a former deputy assistant secretary for Near East affairs at the State Department under Obama.

  • Leroy Wright